JEF LEE JOHNSON The Zimmerman Shadow (2009)

The Zimmerman Shadow
The Blues Via Dylan

I was pre-disposed to like this album, being a big fan of guitarist Jef Lee Johnson’s debut album, Blue (HERE). His resume as a session guitarist is rich (Ronald Shannon Jackson, among others), but his releases sometimes sound more like a young popster with a blues edge than a veteran black experimenter with a gifted avant-guitar touch. The Zimmerman Shadow, an off-beat 2009 Bob Dylan covers album, is another outside-the-box release for Johnson. It sounds live in the studio, and runs the gamut from free improv to slightly jazzy renditions to near-pop expression – all cloaked in the guise of an after-hours studio jam band. Somehow, all of this sounds OK when applied to Dylan’s material. Not unlike Hendrix’s re-interpretations of Dylan’s work, Johnson takes the melodies and filters it all though his own blues sensibilities – in the end, offering a complete reinvention based on Dylan’s source code. The 8 minute, “Highway 61” has slight echoes of Hendrix, mostly in Jef Lee’s vocal phrasing, while “As I Went Out One Morning” uses the John Wesley Harding tune’s melody to anchor a moody, quiet and expansive 11 minute exploration that lapses into an improv/feedback jam. Dylan fans may or may not be amused. Johnson fans will savor this as another example of his back-handed approach to career decision-making. It’s out of print, but used copies are at Amazon, HERE.

I Am A Lonesome Hobo (5:33)
Highway 61 Revisited (8:18)
As I Went Out One Morning (11:35)
Knockin‘ On Heaven’s Door (1:35)
Idiot Wind (7:57)
Ballad Of A Thin Man (4:45)
Blind Willie McTell (5:11)
One More Cup Of Coffee (4:09)
Knockin‘ On Heaven’s Door (2:47)
From A Buick 66 (6:39)
Not Out Of The Book (0:21)
Knockin‘ On Heaven’s Door (3:44)



  • Willard
    May 26, 2011 - 08:43 | Permalink

    The Zimmerman Shadow (@320)


  • Ace K.
    October 10, 2015 - 17:31 | Permalink

    Thanks. Quite pleased and surprised to find a 2011 post still worked. Your site and sub-sites are great.

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